San Francisco's Soft-On-Crime Approach Isn't Working

Amidst a spike in violent crime in the city, San Francisco politicians are talking tough about consequences for violent criminals, but it doesn’t appear that the criminals are paying much attention.

After the brutal murders of two elderly residents in the city over the past week, Mayor London Breed and DA Chesa Boudin are at least saying the right thing, though the policies of Breed and Boudin have helped to enable criminals to act with perceived impunity.

“If you commit a crime in San Francisco and hurt people, you will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Mayor London Breed said during a virtual press conference Tuesday. “That is a commitment I have from our police chief and district attorney.”

“San Francisco will not tolerate violence,” Boudin said. “We will not tolerate preying on the elderly.”

…Boudin said he knows recent events have made people, especially seniors and members of the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, feel unsafe. He assured residents that prosecuting violent crime remains his administration’s top priority.

The district attorney, who ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration and boosting programs that divert some defendants into treatment rather than prosecution, came under fire earlier this month after a parolee allegedly killed two female pedestrians on New Year’s Eve while driving under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol. The suspect, Troy McCallister, 45, had been arrested several times since his release on parole last year but was never prosecuted. Boudin initially blamed state parole officials for the lapse but later committed to “working internally in our own office and along with our justice partners to make changes to prevent this kind of tragedy.”

San Francisco has had a soft-on-crime approach for several years now, but the election of the radical Boudin has made things much worse. Crime in the city has gotten so bad that stores are now closing as a result.

Just one week after making the decision to close its Union Square store, b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby announced via Twitter on Wednesday that the Hayes Valley store is now closed “indefinitely” as well due to a store manager having a gun pointed at him during a robbery.

“Our story is not exceptional,” Norby said. “I think the city will say it’s a b8ta-specific problem because we have a visible storefront and high-value merchandise, but everybody’s witnessing this.”

He said since his story has been covered in the media, other Hayes Valley merchants have reached out to share stories of their break-ins. Norby said he won’t reopen the store until he sees a month free of break-ins on the block.

The Union Square b8ta store closed last week because there were three muggings on the street it is on this year. “It doesn’t matter how expensive it is,” Norby told SFGATE in January. “We can’t send our employees into a store where there’s even a 2% chance they get mugged.”

People are being mugged on the street, assaulted in their stores, and murdered outside of their homes, but good luck to any resident of San Francisco who might want to carry a firearm for self-defense. San Francisco has one of the lowest rates of issuing carry permits in the state of California, with fewer than ten active permits as of a few years ago.

If Mayor Breed and the D.A. are serious about protecting residents, they’d be putting public pressure on San Francisco County Sheriff Paul Miyamoto to approve carry permits for every applicant who meet the statutory requirements. Instead, locked into their anti-gun mindset, they’re doing nothing more but delivering empty promises of a crackdown on crime while ensuring that residents can’t protect themselves. It’s a policy with fatal consequences, but I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

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